Showtime for SF's experiment in civic innovation: 6 startups selected

Wed, 2014-03-19 06:00 -- Liz Enbysk

Mayor Ed LeeWe told you last fall about San Francisco's plan to tap tech startups to help solve civic pain points. Several other large cities are developing similar initiatives – and we suspect many others will be watching how these efforts pan out.

It turns out nearly 200 companies from 25 cities and countries around the world applied to volunteer in SF's 16-week Entrepreneur-in-Residence (EIR) program. Mayor Ed Lee announced the six finalists that will start working with city departments next week.

According to a city press release, the applicant pool was diverse, ranging from seed-stage startups to later stage startups and across software, hardware and services – including serial entrepreneurs, NASA engineers, employees of leading technology companies and several patent holders. San Francisco city departments and agencies selected the finalists through a competitive process based on their needs and priorities.

Here's a quick look at who they are and what they will be applying their brainpower to:

  • MobilePD will work with the police department on public safety and civic engagement. MobilePD is a Sunnyvale, CA-based mobile technology startup that enhances social engagement with the community to reduce crime.
  • Birdi will work with the city's Department of Public Health on air quality and health issues. Birdi is a smart device startup with offices in San Francisco and New York City. It measures air quality and other public health factors and recommends how to improve individual and neighborhood air quality.
  • will work with the San Francisco International Airport on enhanced navigation and services.  An Internet of Things startup headquartered in Austria with a U.S. office in Santa Cruz, CA, provides location-based services, indoor navigation and advanced sensors.
  • Synthicity will work with the city's planning department on new simulation, planning and urban development tools and technologies. Synthicity is a Berkeley, CA software startup.
  • BuildingEye will work with the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency to engage residents and communities. BuildingEye is a software startup with a U.S. office in Palo Alto, CA that makes permit and noticing information easier to discover through a mapping interface.
  • ReGroup, a software startup that provides multi-channel emergency notifications, will work with the San Francisco Department of Emergency Management on enhanced communication services so that the city is better prepared. Founded at Stanford University, the company is headquartered in New York City.

“San Francisco is home to the world’s greatest entrepreneurs, the ones who have ‘disrupted’ numerous industries, and we are bringing those same disruptive technologies to improve delivery of city services for our residents,” noted Mayor Lee. “The Entrepreneurship-in-Residence program brings together government and startups to explore ways we can use technology to make government more accountable, efficient and responsive.”


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